Archive for the ‘tutorials’ Category

Hi folks

Before we get into the crochet fun, I need to announce that the winner of last week’s giveaway is :  Alice! Congrats!  I’ll email you with details on how to get your lovely pattern from TheMinersWife.  Hope you enjoy stitching up something gorgeous!

Willow Tree Journal Cover PDF Sewing Pattern by The Miners Wife

Willow Tree Journal Cover PDF Sewing Pattern by The Miners Wife

Now on to the crochet!  It’s just one more week until we begin the In a Spin Sampler Throw CAL.  I am so excited about it and to be honest a little overwhelmed with just how many folks are interested.  Hope its all you want it to be.

As I have only recently become a crochety type, I know I went looking for a lot of help when I first started.  So I thought before we start our crochet journey together, I’d put together a quick list of tips and tricks to help you out if you are just starting to crochet. Thanks to the Krista Crochet Group on Facebook ladies, this list is pretty long! This is by no means the definitive list of the info out there, it’s just a taster really. Much more is out there – google is your friend.

 Tips and Tricks for Terrific Crochet

  • My hot tip – weave in your ends as you finish each week’s block.  Its not much fun when you finish making something and you still have the job of dealing with a bazillion ends.  Do it as you go and you’ll thank me 🙂 This link has a mountain on info on ways to do it.
Ends! Weave them as you go

Ends! Weave them as you go

  • Are you a leftie?  Search YouTube for “tjw1963” – she has lots of videos that will help all you left-handed folk.
  • A very extensive US/UK terms and symbol conversion chart to be found here
  • Need to hook UK/US conversion info? Look here
  • Changing colours in a block can add a lot of interest and variety to your blocks.  A tute on how to is here
A change of colour

A change of colour

  • Holding your hook and yarn can be tricky – this article has the basics
  • Some patterns will include such words as “gauge” and “tension” “test swatch” – if it’s all gobbledygook to you, this article may help
  • If you want to get all technical about yarn weight and comparisons, good old Wikipedia can help here
  • The term “blocking” will probably come up at some stage in our throw. Now I confess here and now that I have never done it. Basically, it is a way of straightening and making your crochet look that little bit more finished.  There are lots of methods out there. This article has a couple of them.  I know, I know I should do it!
  • These tips come straight from the Krista Crochet Group on Facebook ladies
    • Jen says “I usually go up 2 hook sizes when I make foundation chains for bigger things like blankets to avoid that tight puckered look. it helps to keep your work flat”
    • Also from Jen ” when you’re experimenting or making something & don’t know how big you want it or how many stitches you need for your foundation chain, use 2 balls of wool, one for the foundation chains & one to work with, that way you can unravel if you have too many or extend the chains if you’re too short. learned that from an older lady at my craft group.”
    • From our Krista guru Kim ” Using a smaller hook for that final round of dc, it really does make a big difference.”
  • I like to start my blocks with a magic circle as an alternative to a chain loop.  This video shows you how if you want to learn
  • Hate weaving in ends? The Russian Join may be for you
  • This great if you dislike how a starting chain stands out – you don’t have to do it that way!
  • This tip is probably for your more advanced crocheter – starting without a foundation chain – must learn this one myself!

Well I think I have rabbited on enough!  But if you still have questions – please ask away and I’ll do my best to help you out.

See you next week for our first block!  Don’t worry, the first one is easy 🙂 Its going to be such fun!


Its hard to beleive, but we are more than half way through another school term.  I know its a cliched thing to say, but its so true – Time flies! That means school holidays are closer to happening than being over!  Yipee!  I have wall painting plans, but I am already thinking of some fun things to do over the break.

Here are some great diy projects that I think we can do very easily over the next break inbetween painting walls

How’s this for fabulous? DIY Giftbags! Click on the pic & it will take you to the awesome Clare’s Craftroom blog tutorial so you to can make some.

DIY gift bag made from an old knitting book – geniius!

Staying with the paper theme for now, and considering my girls’ love of origami, I think this project will be on each of their list of things to do – what a great idea! Clicking the link will take you to the lovely How About Orange Blog tutorial.

Origami Wall Art I love the simplicity of this, but I can also see my girls taking it a step further. It will be interesting to see what they come up with

I love a simple idea that makes you think “Why didn’t I think of that?”.  This is one of those.  Clicking the pic will take you to this super cute I Heart Nap Time blog tutorial.

Cute as a button paperclip bookmarks

When I saw this tutorial, I thought – wow that looks ace!  Then I saw how it was done and I just had to share it with you.  Its fabulous and fast! Clicking the pic will take you to the trick shared on the Curbly Blog

Mini Vase – amazing fast tute!

Now this one is a bit more complicated, and to be honest, I don’t think its in my skill range.  Besides, my sewing machine is not paying nice at the moment.  Still, its so fabulous I had to share it anyway.  Its from the Craft Passion Blog – be careful – you could get lost in an endless loop of “Oh I can make that” & adding things to your to do list.

Zipper Card Pouch

So there you go.  Lots of things to keep you busy and creative.  Hope you are inspired 🙂

My blog is turning into a crochet blog!  Sorry folks who don’t like crochet, but today’s post is all about hooks and yarns and really cool stuff I have found about the internets.  I promise next week will be a crochet free zone.  I wont even mention the word.

As you may be aware from previous crochet blog posts, I have picked up the hooks this year in a determined effort to learn to crochet beyond the granny square.  I must say I am quite proud of the progress I’ve made.  I am finding more and more, I am reaching for the crochet hooks over my felt and embroidery thread.  (Although I do have plans to add a bit of crochet to my pincushions – I dream of it at night, so I must find time to bring the ideas into reality so my dreams can move on)

I can’t show you my Krista throw progress, because I am only a week or 2 off finishing them.  I want to wait and show you the finished products.  But here’s an update on how I’m going with my basket weave throw

Half way now 🙂

Now to cool stuff I’ve found

I made my own hook case not too long ago, but I am thinking of making another one – I love this pattern!

Gorgeous crochet hook case pattern from LivingAmethest on etsy

I think I might have to start wearing crochet – I wont do the ol’ crochet bikini, but this is pretty cool

Crochet bracelet in sea tones by Nadene on etsy

I found this and thought awesome!  Then I saw it was by one of my Instagram friends, so its a double yay!  I love seeing what Crafty Mummy is up to – follow her if you’re on Instagram and you wont be disappointed 🙂

Rainbow Crochet Blanket by Crafty Mummy + pattern!

Now these look so pretty!  Clicking the pic will take you to a blog post about the creator and has links to her shop.

Crochet covered Mason jars by SpindleShuttleNeedle via SweatPeach blog

You may already know I have a thing about bright, colourful bunting.  I love this crocheted version.

Crochet Buntng by My Poppet

I love love love the colours in this fun tutorial

Crochet chain by Cornflower Blue Studio

I don’t know why it was done, but I like it!

Crochet covered spoon by Lock and Spook

What’s your current obsession?

Not so long ago, I started to get into Pinterest.  What better way to keep track of awesomeness I thought?  Then I started to read about some issues with it from lots of different sources.  I am not going to go into it all now, but suffice to say, it was enough to stop me using it for a while.  There have been some policy changes and while I am not sure if the issues are resolved fully, I am warily pinning again.

(Although, preparing this blog post has made me think again. I think it is so important to make sure you are pinning the actual person who created the thing’s work.  Not re-pinning a pic someone put on their blog and did not link to the creator.  There were some other wonderful things I was going to share, but folks have not pinned in the honest way I believe they should.  I will not perpetuate it by linking to someone who has done the wrong thing and I will be removing those things I have inadvertently pinned.)

So, what can I show you that I have been pinning?  Here’s a small glimpse. Clicking the images will take you to the source of the pic, not Pinterest.  Credit due to the creators don’t you think?

I pinned this because of the border stitch. There is no pattern, the maker made it up as she went. Clever lady!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes! If I show this to my girls, they will WANT to make them. Very clever – from Diary of a Ladybird blog

From Martha Stewart – amazingly tiny crochet

Lovely embroidery and a lovely story of how it came to be made – very sweet blog post from The Smallest Forest

Textured crochet method – loads of possibilities for this – from a Russian blog

Great idea – wonderful tutorial too. I might just have to make some for xmas pressies 🙂 From Dog Under My Desk blog

The hot chocolate cupcakes is a case in point.  I first saw them in my Facebook feed, posted by a recipe website.  Ooh Yum I thought & went to look for the recipe to Pin it.  Hmm.  No link with the pic.  Not on their website.  Curious.  So I searched “Hot Chocolate Cupcakes” in good old google and found the true source of the pic – Diary of a Ladybird blog. So I pinned from there.

So there you have it.  I love how Pinterest can organise the wonderful things you can find on the internet, but I am still not 100% comfortable with it.  I will be more wary when re-pinning from now on.  I will make sure the pin is a direct link to the creator before re-pinning or just pin the from creators site myself.  How about you? Are you trustworthy with other people’s work?

I can’t even recall how I found some of these links, but I saved them away to share cos they tickled me and I thought they may make you giggle or go “wow” too.   All are very different DIY things.

I just love this as one of my kids was a baldy baby – her hair just didn’t really grow until about 3 years of age.   Clicking the pic will take you to where you can get the pattern for this super cute hat/wig.

No more awkward hair envy!

I am a cross stitch nerd from way back.  I’m also a bit of a tech geek – so when I saw this, I thought PERFECT!  The pic will take you to more info & where you can get it.

What to stitch though?

Sick of getting your ipod cord mixed up with everyone else’s?   Make your cord stand out of the crowd with this kit.

ipod Cable kit by cordinated

Enjoy 🙂

I joke that I have every embroidery floss colour known to man.  Well, I may not have every one, but I come pretty close.  I love having such a choice of colour to work with.  But, it can be troublesome to work with.  Over the years I have tried a few methods of storing my thread and today I thought I’d share the way that works best for me.  And it wont cost you a penny – just a little time.

If stored incorrectly, embroidery floss can be a real chore to sew when you get lots of tangles and knots. Got a bag full of loose, tangled, inseparable threads? Or maybe those little white cards with their compartmentalised boxes that look very organised and neat? Not only can that method be expensive, I found it caused too many kinks from being wound around the card and hence knots when sewing.

Also, embroidery floss generally comes in 6 strand, 8 metre lengths.  This can be tricky if you only want one or two strands, or a little bit for a small piece of embroidery, and often a whole skein can be wasted if it’s not separated carefully.

So how do I avoid those pesky tangles and the hassles of different lengths?  I pre-cut all of my floss to the same length for starters. This is particularly handy if you need 2 strands of different colours as is quite often the case in intricate cross stitch patterns.

This method will give you lots of skeins all the same length – regardless of how many threads are left in each.  Here’s how I do it. :

  1. Carefully remove the label rings with the number and brand – don’t throw them out – you’ll need the number at least.
  2. Put one hand carefully through the centre of the threads
  3. Find one end and start unravelling the skein, but keep a hold of that end as you go.  I tend to pool the loose thread on the floor or table
  4. When it has all been unravelled, catch the other end and align it with the end you held onto at the start.  Double the thread carefully – if you go slow, you wont tangle it. If tangles start to form, gently work from the looped end up.
  5. Now double again and keep doing so until you have a length that you are comfortable working with.  I generally use DMC  floss and I like my length at about 100cm (about 39 inches) which is 8 lengths of 6 strands each.
  6. Fold the threads over one more time and slip the paper ring with the colour number over the loop with no ends and the brand label as well if you want to.
  7. Cut the threads at the other end only (don’t cut both ends or you’ll have very short, annoying lengths – I know – I’ve done it!)
  8. To keep it all together neatly, place 2 fingers through the loop end in and hold  the cut ends in the other.  Begin twisting and twisting the loop end and then thread the cut ends through the loop.  8-12 twists should be fine for a full new skein. When you let go, the skein will twist loosely together.  (The less strands of threads you have, the more twists you will need.)
  9. Voila!  A neat skein of thread. 
  10. If you are using already started skeins, just do the same keeping an eye on the length so you can keep it roughly the same lengths as full skeins.

Now how to store those neat skeins?  I have a large metal hoop (that used to be a belt hanger) I use to store most of my threads on & yes I do keep them in number order.  This is a hangover from my cross stitching days when the number was very important.  If I started again today, I’d probably store them in colour groupings.

I find this to be a great method.  If I need to match a thread colour to a felt piece I am working on, I put a bit of the felt in the centre and bring the various shades into the centre & see what matches best.

Of course, you can do the same thing with smaller collections of floss too.  I have a small plastic ring that I use for smaller projects, or in this case different threads.

Getting one or two threads out of the twisted skein is easy.  Just take the cut ends out of the loop and untwist the skein – place the loop over your finger, holding it firmly & using the wrong end of a sewing needle, pick up a thread and pull it out.  If it starts to get snarled, pull from the bottom, cut ends and try again.  Then re-twist your skein.

The labels come in handy too.  When I run out of a colour, I pop the number label in my purse & grab a new skein next time I’m in the right place.

I hope this has been of some use to you.  It does seem a daunting task to re-organise if you have a lot, but I assure you, the time and angst saved from tangles while embroidering makes it well worth the effort.  I’m not saying you wont ever have a tangle or knot again – you will, but you will have a lot less.

I have a bit of a fascination with ladybirds. Or is it ladybugs?  I think it depends where you live.  No matter what you call them, they make an appearance quite frequently on my pincushions. Such a cute little things with bold bright colours.  What’s not to love?

Today I thought I would share with you my very simple yet effective way to sew a felt ladybird.  You could sew it on just about anything.

The only things you need are scraps of red & black felt, black embroidery thread, scissors & a needle.Things you need to embroider a felt ladybird

Step 1

Cut a square-ish shape from your red felt scrap.  I vary the sizes a bit, but a good starting point is about 1/2 an inch or just over 1 cm.  No need to be too precise.

Red squares

Step 2

Then with small scissors, round off the corners.  Keep trimming until you get a nice round circular shape for the ladybird bodies.

trim until you have a circle

Step 3

Cut a small rectangle from the black felt scrap for the ladybird heads.  About a 1/4 of an inch or half a cm long by half that wide,  just so they are in proportion with your red circles

Black rectangles

Step 4

Then round 2 corners to made a rough half oval shape.

Semi-ovals for heads

Step 5

Thread your needle with 2 strands of black embroidery thread.  Position your ladybird body & head on your work – no need for pins, just hold with your fingers.  Come up through the head from under and sew 2 small stitches on either side  of the black felt head to hold the it in place.  Then come up through the head in about the middle near the body.  Sew one big long stitch straight down the middle & over the top of the body.  Do not stitch through the body, but over it.

Make one big stitch over the body

Click on this picture for a close up view

Step 6

French knot time! (Click  here for a you tube video on how to do a french knot)  I like to do my french knots wrapping the thread twice around the needle.  If you want a bigger knot, then do 3 wraps, or just 1 wrap if you are after a smaller knot.  I like to position my knots symmetrically.  Of course you can place them where ever you like & how many you like too 🙂

French knot spots

Step 7

Now its time for the final details – the legs and antenna.   To do the antenna you can do simple small straight stitches and leave it at that, or you can add french knots to the ends as well.   Then its on to the legs. Start from near the top dot but come up from under the body.  Each leg is made with 2 straight stitches at a right angle or less to each other.  They look like little “v” shapes in isolation. Sew 3 each side.

Stitching the legs

And that’s it!  Job done 🙂

3 finished ladybirds

Off you go – go sew some ladybirds!

Blog home

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 225 other followers

Spincushions on Etsy

Spincushions on Madeit

Flickr Photos

Can you help?

Blogging Friends